Are you paying attention to how your firm appears in local search results? Local search changes rapidly. Over the past year, Google added numerous features to Google My Business (GMB) listings, and it has shifted the importance it places on a number of search factors.
It’s important to keep your local presence up to date because most consumers research lawyers based on location first (“DUI lawyer Waukegan”). Here are tactics you should be using if you want to rank well and stay competitive in your particular niche.
1. Claim and Optimize Your GMB Profile
There are many components to successful law firm SEO, but one of the best things you can do to stay ahead of the pack is to claim and optimize your Google My Business profile. Google provides a free listing — all you need to do is claim it, then beef it up.
Here are tips on making the most of your claimed profile so it ranks well for location-based searches:
Choose an accurate and specific category — for example, “personal injury attorney” instead of just “attorney.”
Fill out the profile completely — don’t leave anything blank.
Use the Google Posts feature by posting content from your blog or writing new content.
Add as many images as you can, as well as video. (These don’t have to be professional-grade; something is better than nothing.)
Take advantage of the Q&A section of your profile.
Get as many reviews as you can. (Bonus points for keywords in the reviews.)
Mike Ramsey has an excellent post on setting up your Google My Business profile that includes how to create a new listing or claim an existing one.
2. Make Link Building a Priority
We already know that one of Google’s top ranking factors is the quantity and quality of inbound links pointed at a domain. This is also a factor that appears to heavily influence where lawyers rank in search for location-based and “purchase intent” queries.
Each link pointing at a website counts as a “vote” for that website in Google’s eyes. The more high-quality that vote is, the more it influences the rank of the page linked to it. Acquiring more high-quality votes for your site than your relevant competition tends to result in higher rankings in search results pages.
As part of a comprehensive SEO campaign, lawyers need to spend time acquiring links from sites that are relevant to their own and that are high-quality.
That means going after sites that have a high domain rating and acquiring as many of those from different high-quality sites as possible.
3. Look for On-Site Wins
On-site refers to the stuff you can do to your actual website to make it perform better in Google search. It’s easy to focus on the external, high-impact tactics of SEO, but making simple on-site improvements can do a lot for your rankings. (See Ramsey’s “Five On-Site Tactics to Optimize Your Website.“)
On-site factors for local SEO are a little more specific. Here are some you can implement right away:
Include a name, address and phone number in the header of all your pages.
Include your primary or location-based keyword phrases in the title of relevant pages.
Improve your domain authority or domain rating. (This is done through external or internal linking.)
Improve your visitors’ experience by making sure your site is easy to navigate, pages load quickly, content is easy to digest, and that all your links and other features work as intended.
Ensure keywords are in permalinks, in headings and throughout the copy of relevant pages.
On-site changes are some of the easiest to implement and they can have a big impact on search results.
4. Don’t Have a Review Campaign? Get One
Be sure to follow your state’s ethics rules and guidelines before proceeding.
Earning online reviews is becoming more and more important for local search. It’s not just the existence of reviews, though, but the speed with which reviews are left and the content of those reviews.
Lawyers who have the leeway from their state bar associations should aggressively go after reviews from current and previous clients. Those reviews should be posted not only on leading platforms like Google My Business, Facebook and Yelp, but also secondary, legal-specific sites like Avvo.
5. Build Citations
While Google does not value citations — business listings in various directories and business sites — as much as it used to, citations are still an important staple of a solid local presence. The tactic has become saturated in recent years, though, so you need to work a little harder to stand out when using it.
Use a service like Bright Local or Yext to build out hundreds of profiles quickly.
Fill out online profiles that are not included in those services with consistent name, address and phone number (NAP) information.
Fill out profiles as completely as possible so they stand out among profiles that are not as robust.